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The Vote for Cambodia: Australia's Diplomatic Intervention

Published 05 Oct 2021
By Richard Broinowski AO

The Vote for Cambodia: Australia’s Diplomatic Intervention

The Australian Institute of International Affairs is pleased to present the third instalment of the Diplomatic History Series.

Under the supervision of the United Nations, Cambodia held its first democratic elections on the 23rd May 1993, an event which was hailed as a monumental victory for democracy. Australia played a prominent role in the lead-up. However, optimism that free and fair elections would continue to be held as a matter of course was eroded during the following years, and finally ended following the forced dissolution of Cambodia’s major opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party, in 2017.

Reflecting on his own experiences as a diplomat in the Department of External Affairs, Richard Broinowski AO dissects the impact of Australia’s contribution to the emergence of contemporary Cambodia. Whilst Australia played a prominent role in supporting the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia to stabilise the region, it’s efforts to build a lasting democratic system is proving to be in vain.

In this first-hand account, Broinowski strings together archival documents and private conversations with senior officials to recount Australia’s role in Cambodia’s tumultuous rise and evaluate the future of peace and stability in the country.


A PDF version is available for download.

The Vote for Cambodia: Australia’s Diplomatic Intervention

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